Savvy Solutions: Starting A Record Company

You can sign artists and put out your own music, but you can't do it alone

I’m looking to start a record company; however, I don’t know where to start.

—P. King
Via E-mail

It isn’t impossible to put out signed artists or your own music. You just can’t do it alone.

Make the most of your time and money by attending local and regional industry events. Billboard has a list at www.billboardevents.com. As you engage others, you’ll no doubt come across potential mentors and record company internships. The more knowledge and understanding of the industry you attain, the better position you’ll be in. Check out The Complete Guide To Starting A Record Company, 2nd Edition by Keith Holzman (Solutions Unlimited; $44.95).

As you do your research, work on crafting a detailed business plan, emphasizing your strategy for branding, publishing, and distribution. (Check out Tunecore.com or CDBaby.com for online distribution services.) Defining your target market and music genres first will help.

Set up the business’ structure (see “Small Business Success Guide,” November 2007), and obtain your business entity’s ENI (Employer ID Number) with the IRS (a must for tax purposes). Once you start publishing music (register it first with The U.S. Copyright Office, www.copyright.gov), sign up for Soundscan (http://en-us.nielsen.com), which tracks your music play on radio stations. The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, or ASCAP (www.ascap.com) and Broadcast Music Inc., or BMI (www.bmi.com) can assist members (songwriters, artists, etc.) in collecting royalties and license fees.      —Tennille M. Robinson

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